RV Care customers’ story of RVing through the Canadian winter and their love for RVing
When RV Care customers Vince and Laura Langdon won our contest for a $250 gift certificate, they asked us to pay it forward to the next person to purchase an Apex Nano trailer, which is what they currently own and love, from Ruston RV Centre.
Beyond their desire to pay it forward, what intrigued us was their comment on our contest:
“We have been living in our Coachmen APEX NANO 19BHS through this Canadian winter for the past 3 months…..Our travel trailer has endured 100km winds, wild rain storms, -20C temperatures, mild spells, ice storms, snow storms…you name it! If we won the gift certificate, we’d donate it to the next person who purchases an APEX NANO from RUSTON RV. Pay the fun forward!”
We wanted to hear the story of their Canadian winter adventure, and lucky for us, they were happy to share it.
Police Constables with the Toronto Police Service, Vince and Laura are currently living in their Apex Nano trailer until they retire in August and relocate to Northern Ontario, a decision that had them moving in -20C weather just before Christmas. In the Q&A below, they’ve shared their story of what led to them to RVing, how winter RVing has challenged them, and their favourite spots to RV in Canada.
Q. Tell us about your involvement with TROOP
A. Over-and-above fulfilling our regular police duties, we run the wilderness camping and canoeing program, Toronto Recreational Outtripping Outreach Program (TROOP), for the police service. The program works with youth that are victims and witnesses of crime or unfortunate circumstances, justice involved youth and youth housed within shelter systems across Toronto. We run anywhere from 2 to 8 canoe trips per summer involving up to 200 youth each year, supported financially by an organization called “ProAction Cops and Kids”. In our busy years, we were camping for 2 months per season. We have been coordinating wilderness camping and canoe trips since 2007, and we actually met while working on this program!
Q. How did you become RVers?
A. After camping for the entire summer with youth and other police officers, we like to get away ourselves on our holidays which take place when the youth programs end in September. On one of our excursions to Newfoundland we purchased a very expensive 4 season tent. We used it two nights in a row, but found that the morning dew caused the tent to be so wet, that we could never dry it out while we traveled each day. We ended up sleeping in the back of our JEEP every night for the remainder of the trip, and when we returned home, we decided to start looking into purchasing a small travel trailer.
In 2012 we ended up purchasing a 14ft. Coachmen Viking 14R. We were very restricted by size and weight due to the limited weight that could be pulled by our JEEP and the very limited space we had in our driveway (not to mention the by-law restrictions in Burlington, Ontario) We loved this trailer and pulled it from Burlington Ontario to the Grand Canyon, to Yellowstone National Park. We started camping in the winter in Algonquin Provincial Park and several others in Ontario that offered year round camping. Our coldest day in the winter of Algonquin was -26C.
In 2015 we decided to get a slightly larger travel trailer and traded in our beloved Viking 14R for a Coachmen Apex Nano 19RBS. This became our new love!
Q. What made you decide to RV full time?
A. In 2016 we realized that all of our kids were grown up and living elsewhere, we could take early retirement with 30 years police service, and we had decided that we wanted to live in northern Ontario for our retirement. House prices in our area were through the roof, so we decided to list our house at a ridiculous price and see if anyone would purchase it. If our house did sell, our plan was to reside in our travel trailer somewhere close to Toronto so we could still get back and forth to work until our actual retirement date of August 1, 2017.
In November 2016 our house sold for that ridiculous price and we took up residence full time in our Coachmen Apex Nano 19RBS at Milton Heights Campground in Milton Ontario as of December 20th, 2016. This was a very steep learning curve as we had only spent days at a time in our travel trailer throughout the cold winter months. We already had our trailer in place with full hookups (Although we only used electrical). Milton Heights had a great washroom and shower facility that we utilized instead of using our travel trailer water system and bathroom.
The night we moved into the trailer from our former home was approximately -20C. I think we were all in shock that night due to the freezing temperatures, the sheer volume of junk that we had to contend with and store, and the fact that we were now officially homeless. By the next evening, the trailer had completely warmed up and we all calmed down and started enjoying our 19ft of heaven.
Q. How were the weather conditions over the winter, what challenges did you face?
A. Over the winter months we endured some 100km/h winds, blizzard conditions, temperatures dipping to the mid -20C, ice storms, and more. We fought off frost, cold and condensation, and learned a LOT about air-flow and moisture inside the trailer. We also learned about essential clothing and gear, downsizing our clothing and equipment about 4 times back to our storage facility.
Q. Was there any point during the winter that you were reconsidering your decision?
A. Yes! Our first night moving from our house into the trailer, which I described above. It was horrible. And then in early January 2017 we noticed that one of our bunk bed mattresses was damp. Upon closer examination we noticed the underside was wet. Then we noticed the back wall was covered in frost and was now melting and running down the wall. We inspected all exterior walls and our main queen size mattress and found frost and water everywhere. We pulled everything up and tried to pile it up in middle of the trailer while we proceeded to try and dry out everything. We realized that because we had our storage drawers packed with clothing, there was no air flow and it was causing frost, condensation and moisture problems. We just stared at each other for a minute and thought “How are we going to manage this?”. It was a weak moment, and luckily we rebounded and discovered many ways to improve our air flow, circulation and storage.
Q. What do you enjoy most about RVing?
A. We love being mobile. We can pick up and move quickly and easily, and are so independent. We love seeing how other people set up their sites and survive the elements.
Q. What are your favourite spots to RV in Canada?
A. Ontario – Obvious choice: Algonquin Provincial Park This is our home Province so we spend most of our time here. Our favourite destination has always been Algonquin Provincial Park at the Mew Lake Campground. We always see wildlife like bears, moose and wolves, they have electrical hook-ups, and it just always feels right. We’ve done the majority of our winter camping at this location.
Not so obvious choice: Land’s End Park in Tobermory, Ontario.
Waterton National Park: The campground itself is pretty much an open area with nothing that notable. It’s clean, has hookups and nice level pads for your travel trailer or RV, but the amazing part is the surrounding region. We saw 16 bears here in 3 days, the hiking trails and waterfalls are amazing, and there is a small town within 1 minute of the campground that is not overrun with tourists but offers great shops and cafes. Don’t forget about the incredible mountains and Waterton Lake. Absolutely awesome!
Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court: This sounded awful and again, there’s nothing that notable about the campground, but the view, the air and the feeling of this place is magical. To sit at our picnic table at our trailer and have a coffee in the morning facing Tunnel Mountain was truly breathtaking. The scenery changed all the time with the lighting and the clouds, it was incredible. Plus, the town of Banff was a short walk down the hill.
Fundy National Park: Great park with excellent RV sites, highest tides in the world, nice little town nearby with bakery and shops, fantastic hikes.
New Brunwick’s NOT so obvious choice: Hole in Ground Campground, Grand Manan Island. This place is a great secret! Better for smaller RVs, but you’re camping on cliff edge with the sounds of seals and whales below. Incredible views and an incredible hide-away.
Q. What does the future hold for your RVing adventure?
A. We are still living full-time in our RV. We truly love it and enjoy almost every day. We love the flow of campers in and out of our campground. Friday nights are exciting as we have new neighbors move in and set-up for the weekend and then it gets all quiet on Sunday evening as they all return to their homes. We love walking around the campground and seeing all the new people and families enjoying the outdoors.
We hope to have a house in the next few months. We’ve truly enjoyed living in our trailer and the winter was a great challenge and a fantastic experience. One winter is good enough for us. One winter in the trailer is awesome, two winters in the trailer by choice is just wrong!
Paying the fun forward
Vince and Laura’s act of generosity was a great surprise and very appreciated by the lucky recipient. Dave Wilson from Burlington, Ontario was the next buyer of an Apex NANO trailer from Ruston RV Centre, and received the $250 gift certificate.
Gift Certificate recipient Dave Wilson with Ruston RV’s Rob Sneyd.
We loved hearing about Vince and Laura’s RVing adventure, thank you so much to them for sharing it with us! They’ve also shared some of their best fulltime and winter RVing Tips and tricks, so stay tuned for those in an upcoming blog.